Sestina for Lost Children

by Janice D. Soderling

I am no longer confident of truth.
I only know that in the dark of night
naming her own child dead, she slyly rose
and took my child to claim it for herself.
It was my child and never was her child.
The night was blind. Only the moon was out.

Who claims the wisdom that can sort it out?
The quicker-witted woman owns the truth.
Though she had coffined-close her first-born child
when I could not distinguish day from night,
she took my first-born child to praise herself
pretending noble sacrifice. Her rows

of false-winged words beat strong and ably rose
to charge and judge and sagely turn me out.
And so she gained my child to please herself.
In darkness it is hard to see the truth
and I became a walker in the night,
dull, dumb, and burdened down with guilt. Her child

found ruth and grief: a poor trade for my child.
Forgiving is not easy, for she rose
hard against me. Bright noon became black night
for all my years. Some say that truth will out,
but first the future has to find the truth
that history corrupts. The child herself

turns woman. Woman turns to child herself,
for old age makes us each a blubbering child,
forgetful of the deep roots of the truth.
Truth changes like the changing of a rose
with cankered core. The one-eyed moon comes out
to sort dark petals fallen in the night,

then wanes again till black envelops night.
The moon is pale, of little use herself
but to reflect brief light. Bold lies out-
balance truth. Yet she said she loved the child
like truth. Old petals drift in cold windrows
heaped red, heaped black, and brutalized like truth.

My day remains my night; my child, her child.
Did she best love herself when she arose
or love the child? Out of old lies comes truth.